The cover letter personalizes the resume and highlights key skills and job accomplishments. An effective letter of interest impresses employers and sets the candidate apart from other job applicants. Without a well-written, targeted request to be considered, employers are less likely to continue on to the candidate’s resume. However, job seekers can keep in mind the following 10 tips to increase their chances of landing a job:
1. Read the Job Description
Carefully read over the job description to get a feel for the requirements of the position. Pick out the skills that closely match the candidate's skills listed on the resume. These are the skills to be highlighted in the written request to be considered.
2. Follow Industry Standard Cover Letter Structure
The request to be considered should generally follow the standard four-part structure: introduction; relevant skills, background, and achievements; conclusion (summary); and salutation.
3. Keep the Letter of Interest Concise, Professional, and Highly Focused
The tone of the inquiry should always be professional rather than casual. Do not use colloquialisms or try to inject humor into the letter. Keep focused on relevant job skills and past job accomplishments.
4. Do Not Repeat the Resume
Be careful not to repeat the resume word for word within the letter body. Rather, provide a personalized summary of applicable skills and how they match the job opening.
5. Express Interest and Enthusiasm
Using wording such as, “I am excited at the prospect of bringing my skills to your company” in the cover letter is highly effective in showing the employer the candidate is interested in the company as well as the job opening.
6. Detail Most Relevant Job Experience
Read the job description carefully, then detail the most relevant work experience related to the job opening. Highlighting the close match between the candidate’s job skills and the requirements of the position helps to convince employers that the person is right for the job.
7. Use Action Verbs
Using action verbs (e.g., developed, managed, coordinated) shows pro-activity and confidence and makes the job application stand out.
8. Use Bullet Points for Skills and Achievements
Rather than using block paragraph format within the cover letter body, the candidate should consider using a bulleted list to highlight skills and achievements. Bulleted lists are easier for busy human resources professionals to scan.
9. Explain Why the Candidate is Interested in the Position
A simple statement such as, “I was excited to find this job opening because of my strong background in web design and development” in the introduction section solidifies the link between the candidate’s job skills and the requirements of the position.
10. Explain How the Applicant is Qualified for the Position
In the conclusion section, the candidate should clearly articulate how he or she is qualified for the position. The statement should read something like, “Based on the close match between my job skills and the requirements of the job opening, I am excited at the prospect of excelling in this position.”
Writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be intimidating. When the applicant writes according to standards and keeps in mind key tips for writing the letter of inquiry, success in landing an interview is just around the corner.